The great Clinton email scandal that wasn’t
Have you heard? With the help of WikiLeaks, Donald Trump has finally found his secret weapon: a trove of emails written to and from Clinton Campaign Chair John Podesta, which are so explosive they will dominate the headlines, prove how corrupt Hillary Clinton really is, turn the American people against her and be the deciding factor in this election.
Have you heard? That may have been Donald Trump’s dream, but it’s bombed bigtime. Yes, the emails — some 40,000 of them — have been dripping out, a couple thousand a day for the last two weeks. There are only two problems. One, there are so many of them that nobody has time to read them all, except low-level reporters who are paid to do so. Two, they are monumentally boring.
Indeed, of the tens of thousands of Podesta emails released so far, it could be said: Never has so much ink been spilled to say so little. Readers who take the time to plow through them will discover such breathtaking revelations as: There’s friction between old-time Clinton aides and new kids on the block. Shocking! Staffers disagree on how close Clinton should get to President Obama or whether she should apologize for using a private email server. Shocking! Some campaign advisers even express disappointment in the candidate herself. Shocking!
In sum, for political junkies, Podesta’s emails provide a fascinating peek into the inner workings of any presidential campaign, but little more. There is no smoking gun.
The many issues Clinton campaign aides are shown struggling with include how to handle her State Department emails, how to juggle support or opposition to TPP and how to deal with the surprising success of Bernie Sanders. On TPP, the debate shifted widely from all-out opposition, in order to appease labor unions, to qualified support, as a show of solidarity with President Obama. So much so that campaign manager Robby Mook complained to Podesta: “I can’t recall where we landed exactly on trade.” Clinton ended up opposing TPP and vows to continue doing so as president.
After Sen. Sanders, I-Vt., whom Clinton aides first dismissed as a left-wing kook from Vermont, crushed Clinton in New Hampshire, worried Clinton staffers floated ideas on how to stop him: call him a communist; expose him as a phony Democrat; deride his lackluster record in the Senate. All of which they did, but — as Sanders himself admits — if you searched his campaign’s emails, you’d find lots of ideas on how to go after Hillary Clinton, too. The objective of both camps was to win.
Emails sent by Clinton as Secretary of State Clinton present a stickier challenge. In March 2015, President Obama told CBS’s Bill Plante that he learned of her use of a private email server the same time everybody else did, from news reports. Oops! “We need to clean this up,” top aide Cheryl Mills warned Podesta, “he has emails from her; they do not say state.gov.” The White House was forced to explain that Obama didn’t realize he was responding through a private server.
Most damaging of all are emails where Clinton campaign staffers react with alarm about continuing efforts by Bill and Hillary Clinton to raise cash from foreign countries for the Clinton Foundation, even while she was beginning her campaign for president. She even planned, and later dropped, a visit to Morocco, which had pledged $12 million to the foundation — a case of political insanity that stunned those closest to her. Top aide Huma Abedin cried out: “She created this mess, and she knows it.”
Again, overall, the emails make for fascinating political reading, but contain no new blockbuster information. What is most shocking, and what gets lost in most of the media coverage, is not what’s in the emails, but who’s behind them. According to 17 U.S. intelligence agencies, Podesta’s email account was hacked by an organization called “Fancy Bears,” which is tied directly to the Russian government.
The evidence is clear. Russia is committing espionage by actively trying to infiltrate and influence the outcome of our presidential election. And why are they only hacking emails at the DNC or the Clinton campaign? Isn’t it obvious? Because Vladimir Putin’s trying to help his friend Donald Trump.
That blatant foreign undermining of our democratic process should outrage every American, Republican and Democrat. And that should be the headline on every story about the Clinton emails: “RUSSIA TRIES TO RIG ELECTION FOR DONALD TRUMP.”